Sunday, May 1, 2011

Boston Marathon Race Report

Tuesday, April 19 – Post Race report

What a great day. Perfect conditions. Geoffrey Mutai ran a 2:03:02, breaking the old Boston Marathon record by 2 minutes and 50 seconds and running the fastest marathon ever! While I did not make my goal of breaking 7 minute per mile, I was still very happy with my 3:11:43 finish at a 7:19 per mile pace. I had a great start taking less than one minute to cross the starting line and settled into a comfortable sub 7 minute mile pace for the first half of the race. The next 10 K, I struggled to hold on to my pace but was in striking distance of my goal. At the 30 K mark (18.6 miles), my good friend Bob Dalton – the top 55 to 59 year old runner in Atlanta wrote, “then the gorilla jumped on your back, you hit the wall, and the mine caved in on you all at once!!!” Well Bob, it wasn’t that bad but I loved your description. To be fair to Bob and to let everyone know the quality guy he is, he continued to write, “Hey, just remember, it’s the effort that counts. Congratulations on another Boston and giving it your ALL / 110%. That’s all anybody could ask for. Be proud, you earned it!” (Thank you Bob!)













Yesterday’s Boston Marathon was all about the journey. I came off the start on Monday knowing it was a perfect day and thinking I could make my goal. Many have analyzed my performance and came up with the obvious conclusion – I went out too fast. However, I have a different perspective. For the first 18 miles, I was chasing my latest dream. In fact, after heartbreak hill, I still felt I might be able to pick up the pace and run sub-sevens. If I had used conventional wisdom and started out at a more reasonable 7:10 pace, I would have been defeated at the first mile. This way, I was still living my dream for at least 20 miles.

More importantly, the 26.2 mile one-way trip from Hopkinton to Boston has always been both a race and a celebration of life for me. Seeing the thousands of people cheering the runners as we came across the start line in Hopkinton still gives me goose bumps. Running past the 2,200 screaming co-eds at Wellesley College reminds me of one of my fondest running memories…running that same gauntlet in 2005 with my 18 year old son Andrew. Finding Nannette in the crowd at 16.8 miles and stopping long enough to give her a kiss of appreciation is something I look forward to. Finding Howie (my running buddy since 1985 and our host for the week-end) and his son-in-law Brian at mile 18 as we started up heart-break hill gave me a well needed boost. Running through the city centers of Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley and Newton that are always packed with cheering spectators creates an ongoing lift . And the highlight of the day was at mile 25. 5 as I approached the final kick to the finish. On my right side, I heard this loud booming voice screaming “Go Mike, Go Mike.” Seeing my 20 year old son Jason screaming at the top of his lungs and acting as if this was the greatest thing he had seen in a long time was all I needed to remind myself this truly was a great day. I had tears in my eyes the last half mile to the finish. It really was a celebration of life.

In the end, I came in 32 out 1,000 finishers in my age group and beat the qualifying time for next year’s race by 49 minutes.

And my final story. Last Thursday, I went on my final pre-Boston run with my Tuesday/Thursday running buddies - Calvin, Howard, Carey and Jack. As we were coming to an end of our 7 mile run, Howard spotted a five dollar bill on the street and yelled for me to pick it up. Jack saw in, picked it up and gave it to me as “The Lucky Five Dollar Bill.” So I took the $5 to Boston and actually put it in my right shoe at the start – not for luck, but as a reminder of all the encouragement and support I have gotten from Calvin, Howard, Carey and Jack in our morning run. And the five dollar bill also reminded me of all the people who were tracking my progress on their cell phones throughout the day. That is why I love this sport. On Wednesday, I plan on passing that now dried five dollar bill to my friend and mentor who is dealing with his own medical challenges. Not for luck, but as a constant reminder to him of all the friends he has gathered on his journey who are surrounding him with encouragement and support for his next challenge.

As for the Master’s team, the highlight of the Masters team was the performance of our senior member, Clarence Hartley. Clarence ran a 4:26:25 at age 81. Unbelievable! By the way, for my triathlon friends, the winner in that age group for women was our friend, Sister Madonna Buder, 80 years old at 5:01:05. Malcolm Campbell who just joined the ranks of the masters team ran a 2:42:22 and was the 247th male finisher. Special congratulations to Scott Boylan and George Shaak who both ran Boston PRs (3:15:50 and 3:15:52)

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